If you’re a sports fan, this month may be one of the worst months. Basketball, hockey, and football are all enjoying the offseason while baseball takes a one-week break for the all-star festivities. There are other choices for sports fans. The NBA has its summer league but nobody really knows who they’re watching for (The lone exception, the Celtics’ Tacko Fall). Entertainment Executive Jeff Kwatinetz and actor/hip hop musician Ice Cube may be onto something with their basketball league currently in its third year.
The Big 3 was started in 2017 and provided its players who have the itch to play an opportunity to show what they got. Players like Ricky Davis, “Birdman” Chris Anderson, Nate Robinson, Brian Scalabrine and as some people may have heard recently, “Big Baby” Glen Davis play for the league that is coming to New England.
There are some differences between basketball that fans are used to and the Big 3 including the 4-point shot which is 30 feet away from the basket. There is no running clock, but players only have 14 seconds to get a shot off on the half court. It’s a unique game, but a game that is continuing to grow and continuing to tour.
This weekend, the league takes its talents to Providence’s Dunkin’ Donuts Center and fans will see players who don’t just have the drive to play basketball, but some are looking to return to the Association. This league has changed from a “basketball career retirement home” to an operation the NBA could use to improve the state of its own game.
- Obviously, the four-point shot sparks interest in the Big 3 and fans have been asking for it in the NBA. The way players shoot from the logo at midcourt, it could change how games are played.
- Players in the Big 3 may be in their 40’s and 50’s, but some players have shown the desire to bring their talents back to the NBA. 38-year old former Celtic Joe Johnson and 36-year-old former Knick Amar’e Stoudemire have been playing lights out in their first three weeks of the Big 3 season. Johnson has a league-high 73 points in three weeks and Stoudemire ranks third with 66 total points. Stoudemire has received interest from NBA teams recently, so much so he’ll work out in Vegas for NBA teams including the Lakers. This would be big for the Big 3 showing fans and players that there could be something to play for besides the crowd. Joe Johnson is another player NBA fans should pay attention to over the next couple of months. If Stoudemire and Johnson make it back to the association, this could attract other players to perhaps restart their careers (Minimum age to play is 27 years old) It should be worth noting, Xavier Silas who played with the Big 3 signed a 10-Day contract with the Boston Celtics in 2018.
- The Big 3 has allowed the use of CBD for players in the league. Ice Cube talked with Forbes in 2018 and said “These guys put their bodies on the line for us and the fans to entertain us with their talent. And as they’re hurting and in pain and there’s something out there that can help them, that doesn’t enhance their performance or intoxicates them…. To me, it’s simple compassion.” This could eventually change how other professional leagues treat CBD.
- Nancy Lieberman and Lisa Leslie serve as coaches for two of the teams in the league and have received high praise from players around the Big 3. Add in Becky Hammon and Kara Lawson currently serving as assistant coaches for the Spurs and Celtics respectively, one would think we’re not too far away from a woman head coach in the NBA.
The league is in its third year and earlier this year signed a contract with CBS, meaning for the third straight season, the championship game will appear on live network television which should be a huge feather in the cap of Kwatinetz and Cube. There are improvements the league could make including making their games appointment viewing. Some weekends, games start at noon, others start at 5:00 pm or in primetime. The league averages around 10,000 people at their games, but the TV audience is big to watch especially with a network television contract.
Expanding the game could prove beneficial as well. Not adding to the 12 teams already in the league, but in other places, the NBA hasn’t had games ever or in a long time. Hawaii, Vancouver, Alaska, the possibilities are endless but the arrow continues to point up for a league that may have started as a niche, but could be true must-see TV or must buy tickets in the future.
-John Luck (@jluck_89)